Of iPhones and some beautiful forms

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I’ve been drooling as much as anyone for one ever since Jobs announced it last January 9 in a brilliant demo (just for some historical fun, compare it with the 1968 “Mother of all demos”), and an interesting, in-depth review of it by Bruce Tognazzi got me thinking more deeply about it and all the possibilities it foretells. But just as I was guzzling the last Kool-aid dregs I started choking: I found out, to my unending disbelief, that it’s going to be a closed platform — meaning one won’t be able to independently develop software for it. This matters. It’s not a chink in the diamond, it’s a rupture — tantamount to forcing you to surf only within apple.com. The web could of course be an innovation lifeline but I’m skeptical of Safari — it’s not a good web 2.0 base at the desktop, I doubt it’ll be one for the palmtop. And my experience with the Blackberry is that mobile-device webapps demand more speed and immediacy (and ubiquity!) than the current web can provide. So no, it will at best be only a partial solution. (The reason given for the apartheid, security, has — to use a commenter’s phrase — the faint whiff of horse manure.)

So that’s that. I now want to remark a little on that iPhone review I just mentioned. Bruce Tognazzi is no Joe Blogger, he was Apple employee #66 and is a famous interaction designer. His website, AskTog, is a classic resource on interface design. But it’s not his interaction insights I want to point out now — though there are plenty of good ones. What impressed me most was his language. Three quotes in particular strike me as true language-forging moments.

What strikes me about the iPhone interface in general is that it gives ordinary people access to features that have been the private purview of the young and the geeky. For example, cell phones have long had contact lists, but they were typically difficult to build, maintain, and sync.

The young and the geeky. Witness the birth of a new wordchain. It won’t be the last time you’ll hear it.

The industrial design is brilliant. Apple has created another piece of high-tech jewelry. Some fogies of advancing years have suggested the initial price point of $499 is too high. They fail to understand: The “cool” of owning this phone, particularly for the early adopters, is worth an easy $497, bringing the phone itself down to $2 even.

High-tech jewelry. That’s a beautiful, zeit-geist defining phrase — electronics “becoming… works of art to be fondled in stores before a purchase.” E

Those of you young and technologically inclined may find this difficult to believe, but the average cell phone user cannot use many features you may find standard, such as call-waiting, call-forwarding, and conferencing. Apple has made these features completely accessible to all but those dangling their legs off the far end of the bell shaped curve.

There’s an image! It reminds me a lot, both alluding to pseudo-scientific science^ WP, WP^, of that classic Spanish insult, “No tener ni dos dedos de frente!(“Not have even two fingers of forehead!”) — trying to find an appropriate translation, btw, I stumbled upon an instant new classic, “Tiraron al niño y se quedaron con la placenta F!_” (“They threw the child and kept the placenta!”).

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